Sollitt is star of the show as Gladiators earn draw

Nathan Joynes in action for Matlock Town in their 1-1 draw against Northwich Victoria.
Nathan Joynes in action for Matlock Town in their 1-1 draw against Northwich Victoria.

Evo-Stik Premier Division

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Matlock Town 1

Steve Warne 75

Northwich Victoria 1

Dominic Collins 27

Matlock Town: Adam Sollitt, Kris Witcombe (Kris Bowler 70), Lee Featherstone, Liam King, Adam Yates, James Lukic, Gareth Davies, Steve Warne, Dene Cropper, Ross Hannah, Nathan Joynes. Subs not used: James Knowles, Nick Buxton.

Referee: D P Meeson – Stoke-on-Trent

Attendance: 392

Star Man: Adam Sollitt.

Steve Warne’s second goal of the season earned Matlock a point which, in the first half, did not look likely as a strong Northwich side dominated the game.

The Vics had been thwarted time and again by Matlock’s star man on the day, goalkeeper Adam Sollitt, and when the half-time whistle shrilled, Matlock walked off happy to be just the one goal down.

But at least a much improved second half performance followed and Vics, just outside the play-off places at kick-off, were made to pay for not putting the game out of the Gladiators’ reach.

Matlock had not managed to secure Anthony Wilson from Alfreton for a second month’s loan so Dene Cropper came in while Ben Turner was out with an ankle injury and Kris Witcombe deputised at full back.

Northwich were quicker out of the blocks and pushed Matlock back deep into their own territory early on. Sollitt began his catalogue of fine saves with a magnificent diving effort to deny Andy Fowler after ten minutes.

It was soon to become Fowler v Sollitt and the Gladiators were relieved Sollitt comfortably won the battle.

Wayne Riley found room on the left to cross tantalisingly but Vics then suffered a blow as experienced striker Tony Evans limped off.

In the next minute, Sollitt pulled off another fine block from Fowler and then skipper James Lukic put in a terrific challenge on tall centre forward John McAliskey who looked set to turn and shoot.

But Vics’ pressure paid off in the 27th minute, albeit from a scrappy goal. Matlock only half cleared a corner and when Michael Byron flicked on the return ball, Adam Roberts saw his shot ricochet towards Dominic Collins and the big number four stabbed home from point blank range.

Matlock had shown little as an attacking force but there was a sniff for Ross Hannah on 37 minutes when, from a quickly-taken throw, he swivelled to shoot off target.

Then Dene Cropper was too high from a header before Matlock walked off to be met by words of wisdom from Mark Atkins, named as the Evo-Stik Premier Division Manager of the Month for February.

Those words obviously had some effect as Matlock came out and looked more like their usual selves.

Gareth Davies took a grip on the midfield and had a shot charged down before bursting through to slam in a 30- yarder which whistled inches past goalkeeper Ryan Jones’ right hand post.

Then Cropper headed against a post from another attack.

That brought about a speedy response from Vics who broke at pace for Fowler to win a corner and Collins came close to a second goal.

Five minutes later Matlock found that vital equaliser as a ball in from the left saw Nathan Joynes find Warne with a cushioned knock down and he steamed in to direct a powerful header past Jones.

In the end Matlock, will be satisfied with the point and, as manager Atkins pointed out afterwards, “we’ve not been dominated by a team so much as Northwich dominated us in the first half.

“We were better afterwards and might have gone on to win it but all in all we can’t complain at a point.”